PROJECT : Palico Run
ROLE : Experience ,Visuals, Team Lead
DURATION : 3 weeks
PalicoRun is a smartwatch fitness-focused companion app paired with Capcom's "Monster Hunter World". This project's main goal was to revise and establish an alternate means of interacting with a system within the games ecosystem through gamifying walking and jogging.
1) Identify a mechanic within the game that provides the potential for an engaging experience without compromising the main game’s core game play loop
2) Develop Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) for our app to interact with the main game's current game state and changes it in a meaningful way
3) Create a comprehensive UI that ties in the iconography of the franchise while achieving high-level design objectives.
Palico Run display
Our initial kickoff meeting found us asking ourselves a few key questions to structure our ideation process moving forward.
"What is the product going to be?"
"Who is the target audience for our product?"
"What makes our product stand out amongst the competition?"
"How do those existing products execute on their experience?"
"How do we incorporate our products experience into that of the companion game?"
Divergent & Convergent
We began our process by first aggregating our shared experiences with the franchise. We threw together a number of mechanics we believed would provide the most interesting play experience or the most utility. We weighed in each individual member’s opinion before discussing our own pain points as users to hone in on a hand full of mechanics to possibly tackle.
Once established, we performed cursory research across various forums and online message boards on the grievances of the player base. Following up, we conducted
a handful of 1on1 interviews focused on participant's reception of the mechanics we selected such as: current implementation, reward streams, pain points, learning curve, ease of access, etc.
We divided mechanics based on the games two distinct states of play: “In-field” and "In-hub”; further subdividing them based on player engagement levels
Following this, we refined our selection further by examining the high-priority mechanics ( rated 1) then mid-priority mechanics (rated 2). What we discovered was that isolating their functionality to a remote device would be either detrimental to the “magic bubble” phenomena or worse, redundant, as players would rather engage with them through conventional means.
This resulted in us pivoting our focus to the low priority mechanics, with our aim being to revitalize their functionality. Capitalizing on their PROS whilst minimizing their CONS.
1 - Often (high priority)
2 - Occasionally (mid priority)
3 - Rarely (low priority)
Fast Travel 1
Managing Items 1
Item Crafting 1
Utilizing Scout Flies 1
Utilizing the Slinger 1
Changing Loadouts 2
Guildarm Chef 2
Monster Tailing/ Discovery 2
Palico Chef 1
Weapon Crafting 1
Item Chest/Loadouts 1
Quest/ Bounty Board 1
Talisman Crafting 2
Item Harvesting 2
Monster Ecologist 3
House Decoration 3
Tailraiders Safari 3
Who are our users?
Age : 32 | Teacher
While very active and very passionate about Monster Hunter World, Mike doesn't have as much disposable time to partake in all the sub-mechanics the game offers to gather resources. This results in him taking breaks from the game as he finds it a tad overwhelming and tedious to keep up which only exacerbates the downtime experienced whenever he does return. The app provides an integrated, alternate stream for both resources & crafting materials for Mike while he’s tackling his busy day
Age : 16 | HS Student
As a member of her highschool’s football team, Karen is constantly on the move whether at training or at school. Though she finds herself with the spare time to play and keep updated with the game and her friends, her competitive nature always nudges her to seek out as much of an edge as possible. Though viewed more as a bonus, Karen utilizes the app to top off her resources, raise her palico, & start alternate armour sets by collecting materials whilst out running on the football field or the busy halls of her high school.
We went through some of the top-rated companion apps to analyze the features and treatment provided for their users.
Although none fell directly in line with what we envisioned for our product we gained valuable insight for design considerations.
Outside the sphere of gaming, the product that bears the most resemblance to ours would be “Fitbit” and their app.
Considering the limitations of our platform (smartwatch) & our initial design goals we were presented with a few key takeaways :
- High-level user execution
- Information dense systems
- Undefined entry and exit points
- Overlap between in-app and in-game functionality
We laid out Flowcharts to visualize the basic user journey, focusing on the core feature of our product ( step tracking/ jogging) and slowly reiterating to add secondary features and mechanics.
Initial | User Journey 1.a
1st pass Iteration | User Journey 1.b
2nd pass iteration | User Journey 1.c
Feature Complete | User Journey 1.d
It was very important that the information architecture was concise and intuitive before advancing to 1st Pass Art so we tested this step extensively.
After a few iterations from our initial low fidelity flowchart, we moved onto drafting a paper prototype and prepared a short survey to gauge the UX.
Paper Prototype | User Journey 2.a
Wireframe Prototype | User Journey 2.b
Challenges & Takeway
MECHANICS & ENGAGEMENT
One of the main priorities in creating and retaining a user base for us was to establish a fulfilling reward stream which provided utility within our partner game and our own app.
Our game play component was short with a low skill floor and just enough subtle variation in the mechanics to keep it feeling fresh.
KEEPING IT MODERN & ICONIC
When it came to the user interface the neutral tones of black and white, and sparse use of accent colors worked to keep things concise, sleek and modern. This also created a bedding for the iconography from the Monster Hunter series to lay on making their impact even more noticeable.
LARGE IDEAS, SMALL BOXES
The most dynamic aspect of this entire experience hands down would be designing for a smart watch. With much lower parameters to work with it forced us to constantly re-evaluate what we prioritized as designers to deliver a well polished User Experience.